Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
01-02-2012, 05:33 PM - 4 Likes   #1
Veteran Member
creampuff's Avatar

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Singapore
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 3,955
Observations from a Pentax user group meeting.

Yesterday the Pentax user group in Singapore had an informal gathering to mark the New Year. As we've been hanging out together for a group for a few years already it was a good time to catch-up with one another on a personal level and like all such meetings, the discussion turned to our gear: what we use including other makes and formats, how we use it, the subjects we shoot, lens comparisons and pretty much everything under the sun.

We had a nice mix of new users, people dabbling with old lenses, experienced shooters and serious amateurs alike, including a few who have owned or used almost every lens in Pentax's line-up past and present, old and new. In summary, the few general observations that I've noted:

1) Images taken through normal AF thru the viewfinder are never as sharp as those taken by Live View. This was tested on the spot at different apertures in daylight with different K-5s with the Sigma 30mm, DA* 55mm, DA* 24mm, FA 77mm, FA 135mm, DA 17-70mm, DA 18-135mm. The worse performer strangely enough was the FA 135mm. I love this lens but I think like all FA/F series lenses, it may be showing its age.

2) The DA 18-135mm beats the DA 17-70mm in terms of center sharpness at max aperture and stopped down. AF speed wise, there's just no contest, the DC motor is a lot faster. The only significant downside is the lack of distance markings but as an all in one lens, the DA 18-135mm shines. The DA 17-70mm isn't bad, better than the DA 16-45mm imo, but it struggles to hold its own against the DA 18-135mm. I dare say this lens will easily trounce other superzooms in the 18-200mm, 18-250mm range.

3) Sigma 30mm beats FA* 24mm wide open, but the Sigma's color rendition is a lot cooler (bluer). Yes, I've compared an f/1.4 lens against an f/2 lens and the focal lengths are different. Both are terrific lenses but the center sharpness of the Sigma is nothing short of astonishing, only let down by the very obvious cooler image rendering. Vignetting is also evident, but it definitely amazed a number of my friends who have the excellent FA 31mm. My take, if you appreciate fine workmanship and quality and want an enduring keeper get the FA 31mm. If you want to have a beater to use for the next 5 years but you don't care a hoot about long term build quality, consider the Sigma.

4) One thing we noted that removing any filters (however good the brand or quality is) made an obvious difference in picture quality and edge contrast. Obviously if that goes against one's belief or paranoia about front element protection, then be content to accept the obvious trade-off in picture quality. If you don't pixel peep, don't blow-up and just take casual snaps, skip this. When using large aperture lenses, having a deep hood does improve image contrast noticeably.

5) Many in our group have dabbled into mirrorless cameras with positive results. We had members who have used the Sony NEX, Fuji X10 & X100, Ricoh GR & GXR, Panasonic and other M4/3 cameras. All raved the compact dimensions and the decent picture quality plus the options to use different lenses with adapters. However, most found some niggling issues with their cameras - WB off, aperture unit failures with the Fuji X10 and Ricoh GXR. Generally good for portability but for serious shooting, the DSLRs come out.
With the results from point 1), I will most definitely buy the APS-C mirrorless K-mount camera that I'm certain Pentax has in the works.

6) DA* 55mm beats Sigma 50mm, F 50mm f/1.7, FA 50mm f/1.4. So I lent my DA* to my buddy who has the other lenses and done his own lens tests but he hasn't posted his results. Locally as well as in China, he's the acknowledged Pentax authority so when he says the DA* is the best of the lot (and the most expensive too), that's all I need to know. One thing to note is that the Sigma's FOV is a little wider, so it's true focal length is probably a little less than 50mm. Sorry Frank for the spoiler.

7) Made in Vietnam makes no difference. My silver FA 77mm (MIV) was found to be tack sharp and some who had MIJ versions offered to swop theirs with mine. Err... no thanks. Those who have the DA 70mm but tried the FA 77mm for the first time are always surprised at what the FA 77mm can do. Yes, it has definitely the wow factor. I'm not sure about others but some like me who have both lenses have perhaps toyed with the idea to get rid of their DA 70mm at some point.
Back to the topic, bottomline: where it's made is not important, but what's important is whether you got a good copy. I can relate this experience with my two FA 43mm, both MIJ. One was a dog with horrid purple fringing while the other had the purple fringing demon in check. In a sense, I really think Pentax users should personally test their lenses before buying because with online purchases it really is a big gamble as online sellers will and do resell the bad copies that get returned.

8) Most popular bag at the meet... Billingham by a mile. For classic styling, compact dimensions and water resistance, the Billinghams are hard to beat. Looking cool is just as important as carrying cool gear.

Will post some shots later, beer photos included.


K-5 DA* 55mm f/1.4 SDM at f/2


Last edited by creampuff; 01-02-2012 at 08:26 PM.
01-02-2012, 06:06 PM   #2
Veteran Member
demp10's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Atlanta
Photos: Albums
Posts: 602
Excellent observations creapuff!

I could not agree more with #1 and #4

Thank you.
01-02-2012, 06:57 PM   #3
Site Supporter
reivax's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: California
Posts: 740
I'm not doubting #1, but is there any reason why that would be/is true? I would have figured that pictures taken through the viewfinder would be sharper, or at least that it wouldn't make a difference at all. Is this something that is only prevalent in Pentax cameras? Or other brands as well?

Wow. I guess I'm going to have to get used to using the viewfinder more.
01-02-2012, 07:04 PM   #4
Site Supporter
reivax's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: California
Posts: 740
Just finished reading (on another message board) where people were talking about the Live View producing sharper images on Nikons as well. Their explanation for it was the fact that Live View allows you to focus better. They also talked about LV producing sharper images especially when using AF. That makes sense.

So the conclusion is:
Live View produces sharper images because it allows the camera/photographer to focus more precisely.

01-02-2012, 07:06 PM   #5
Veteran Member
dgaies's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Maryland / Washington DC
Posts: 3,917
QuoteOriginally posted by reivax Quote
Just finished reading (on another message board) where people were talking about the Live View producing sharper images on Nikons as well. Their explanation for it was the fact that Live View allows you to focus better. They also talked about LV producing sharper images especially when using AF. That makes sense.

So the conclusion is:
Live View produces sharper images because it allows the camera/photographer to focus more precisely.
I would guess it's a combination of that and the fact that the mirror is up during LV and doesn't have the potential to cause any vibration since it's not moving.
01-02-2012, 07:59 PM   #6
Pentaxian
johnmflores's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Somerville, NJ
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 5,185
Thanks for sharing! I own a DA70 and was hoping to get a Rokinon 85/1.4. Now I'm thinking the FA77 might be the perfect middle ground...

One note about LV - I think the lack of any possible calibration errors is what makes LV more accurate.
01-02-2012, 08:20 PM   #7
Veteran Member
creampuff's Avatar

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Singapore
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 3,955
Original Poster
Well in our meeting yesterday, we had a former Pentax repair tech who now sadly works for Nikon. He says it's the same for Nikon, live view does deliver sharper images. As sharp as images from my Sigma 30mm, DA* 55mm, FA 77mm or FA 135mm are at maximum aperture, those shot with LV are just a tad sharper, but we're talking degrees here. YMMV with other lens/body combo. You can actually test this easily enough.
01-02-2012, 08:39 PM   #8
Pentaxian
aleonx3's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Brampton, Ontario
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 3,888
@creampuff, thanks for the information; as for no. 2, I was going to get the DA 17-70 to complement my DA 18-135 (I agree that it is sneaky fast in AF)... may be I will have second thoughts.

01-02-2012, 08:44 PM   #9
Pentaxian
bobmaxja's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Laval, Quebec Canada
Posts: 1,736
I believe what you said about liveview you make sense. I am sure most of the R&D is done to improve AF for Liveview instead of OV as this is a technology that could will be the premier choice for most consumer in the future. OV will still exist but in smaller volume and will not be the determinant factor for technology
01-02-2012, 08:47 PM   #10
Veteran Member
dgaies's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Maryland / Washington DC
Posts: 3,917
QuoteOriginally posted by aleonx3 Quote
@creampuff, thanks for the information; as for no. 2, I was going to get the DA 17-70 to complement my DA 18-135 (I agree that it is sneaky fast in AF)... may be I will have second thoughts.
I currently own the 18-135, but used to own the 17-70 (and 16-45 as well). I also prefer the 18-135 to both lenses and would personally skip the 17-70 if you already own the 18-135.
01-02-2012, 09:23 PM   #11
Site Supporter
reivax's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: California
Posts: 740
QuoteOriginally posted by johnmflores Quote
Thanks for sharing! I own a DA70 and was hoping to get a Rokinon 85/1.4. Now I'm thinking the FA77 might be the perfect middle ground...
Middle ground as far as range? Or middle ground as far as price?

The FA 77 seems to be way more expensive than the Rokinon 85. Is the Rokinon a worthy lens? Or is it better to try to find an older lens that is a Pentax that has the same range?
01-02-2012, 09:29 PM   #12
Pentaxian
johnmflores's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Somerville, NJ
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 5,185
QuoteOriginally posted by reivax Quote
Middle ground as far as range? Or middle ground as far as price?

The FA 77 seems to be way more expensive than the Rokinon 85. Is the Rokinon a worthy lens? Or is it better to try to find an older lens that is a Pentax that has the same range?
For the price of my DA70 + a new Rokinon 85, I'm awfully close to the FA77. I intend to use it for stills and video. Researching to see if anyone has used it for video...
01-02-2012, 09:40 PM   #13
Veteran Member
TOUGEFC's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Brisbane
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 3,561
Excellent post and report creampuff!

Couldnt agree more with #6, the DA*55 beats every 50mm I compare it to.

And yes the FA77 certainly has a wow factor!
01-03-2012, 01:00 AM   #14
Pentaxian




Join Date: Nov 2011
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 3,735
QuoteOriginally posted by dgaies Quote
I would guess it's a combination of that and the fact that the mirror is up during LV and doesn't have the potential to cause any vibration since it's not moving.
On the K-x at least, the mirror still flaps up and down with live view.
(Pentax/Ricoh engineers, I'd welcome a DSLR where that doesn't happen.)
But the slow, direct sensor-based contrast AF with live view tends to be more accurate
than the faster, indirectly routed phase detection AF.
When I need the critical focusing from live view,
I focus that way first,
then switch back to MF so I don't lose the good focus,
and shoot normally through the viewfinder.
01-03-2012, 03:14 AM - 1 Like   #15
Veteran Member
frank's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Singapore
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 3,202
Nice observations, buddy. I can't do half as good if it's me to do the writeup

Personally I use my Pany G3 a lot more often than K5 nowadays due to its much smaller size and and lighter weight, IQ is more than enough for family photos and walkabout, AF speed/accuracy under low light beats Pentax hands down, as fast if not faster in good light. Hope Pentax will release something similar (small and good) this year.

As to old lenses like FA135/2.8, I've told quite a few guys already, go for modern lenses if can, especially AF lenses. Some (or many) old AF lenses don't work as well as they used to be when they are still fresh, it's kinda gamble to buy an old AF lens which happens to be a good copy. JMHO.

AF or MF with liveview beats through OF easily. If Pentax releases a mirrorless camera w/ similar features as K5, which I think they will, I'm sure a lot guys would enjoy using MF lenses even more. By then, my G3 probably will be gone.

BTW, if any of you guys happens to pass by Singapore, please let us know. We'd be glad to rearrange our monthly outing so you'd be able to see some happy Pentax fans here
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
18-135mm, 77mm, da, da*, fa, k-mount, lens, lenses, pentax, pentax lens, quality, sigma, slr lens
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Pentax AF 1.7 TC observations David&karen Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 20 03-19-2013 01:35 AM
My own Photokina observations (Pentax and others) thibs Pentax News and Rumors 34 09-30-2010 01:11 PM
New Social Group - British Columbia User Group bigdave69 Travel, Events, and Groups 1 09-02-2010 09:34 AM
Portraits from a Flickr group meeting attack11 Post Your Photos! 7 06-20-2009 02:25 PM
Pentax user in London please join my new pentax DSLR London users group m42geo Photographic Technique 3 01-31-2009 05:32 PM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 08:49 PM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top